B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. Horgan says the election promise to provide COVID-19 recovery benefit dollars to British Columbia families and individuals will be the focus of Monday’s return to the legislature for a brief session. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. Horgan says the election promise to provide COVID-19 recovery benefit dollars to British Columbia families and individuals will be the focus of Monday’s return to the legislature for a brief session. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Horgan says COVID-19 relief promise top priority of short B.C. legislature session

NDP landed a decisive victory in the Oct. 24 provincial election, securing 57 of the legislature’s 87 seats

Premier John Horgan says his newly re-elected government will focus on ensuring families and individuals start receiving COVID-19 recovery benefits when the legislature resumes for a shortened session on Monday.

Horgan said he expects the session, the first since his New Democrats were re-elected with a majority mandate, to sit for just two weeks before adjourning for the holidays.

During that time, politicians are expected to pass legislation that would grant the government the authority to fulfil a campaign promise and begin delivering pandemic relief funds.

The proposed legislation earmarks one-time, tax-free payments of $1,000 for eligible families and $500 for qualifying individuals.

The brief legislative session is set to begin with a Monday throne speech mapping out the government’s priorities.

But Horgan says getting financial aid into the hands of the province’s residents must be his administration’s most pressing goal.

“The priority is getting the supply bill passed so we can flow dollars to families and individuals,” Horgan said at a recent news conference. “We don’t have any anticipated additional legislation.”

Horgan said the money would ideally reach residents before Christmas, but acknowledged such a timeline may be overly ambitious.

The relief funds, he said, will help both the province’s residents and the regional economy as B.C. grapples with the effects of the global pandemic.

“It’s putting dollars into peoples pockets so they can continue to get through the most challenging time British Columbians have ever known,” Horgan said. “We believe it’s good economics. We campaigned on it.”

The NDP landed a decisive victory in the Oct. 24 provincial election, securing 57 of the legislature’s 87 seats.

ALSO READ: National Student Loan Service Centre plagued by delays as requests for help soar

The Opposition Liberals, who lost considerable ground during the election and saw Andrew Wilkinson step down as leader after the party’s poor showing, are questioning the need to reconvene the legislature to pass a single bill. The move, they said, comes as the province faces a record budget deficit.

“I think British Columbians would expect that if we are going to open the legislature, bring MLAs from across the province with limited numbers, and with COVID-19 protocols that there should be a substantive agenda,” said interim Liberal Leader Shirley Bond.

B.C. politicians participated in a hybrid, summer session before the election that saw just 20 members attend debates and question periods at the legislature while others participated remotely.

The government should use the new session to provide an update of the province’s finances, Bond said.

Last September, the government’s first quarterly report forecast a deficit of about $13 billion, but there has been no word on the timing of the next financial report, she said.

“Instead, what we got was the finance minister musing about whether or not she might actually push her budget presentation off until later in the year,” said Bond.

B.C. budgets have traditionally been tabled on the third Tuesday of February. But the legislature changed a law last summer to allow a budget to be tabled later when there is a fall election.

Bond said the Liberals plan to hold the NDP to their election promises to cap the fees food delivery companies charge to restaurants for takeout orders and they may also introduce their own private members bills.

Horgan said the NDP will nominate Burnaby New Democrat Raj Chouhan to serve as the Speaker of the legislature.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

RCMP responded to a report early Friday morning of a suspect firing a gun at a Salmo home. Photo: Black Press
RCMP arrest woman who fired shots at Salmo home

The woman allegedly discharged a firearm early Friday morning

Summit Ski Hill had a delayed start to the season because of warm temperatures. Photo: Summit Ski Hill
Late season start frustrating for Nakusp ski hill

Summit Ski Hill only just opened Jan. 14

Four friends were heading to their home on Highway 6 just south of Silverton on the evening of Dec. 25, 2020, when the people in the front of the vehicle saw what looked like a “huge, man-like figure” on the side of the road. (Pixabay.com)
Possible Bigfoot sighting shocks, excites Silverton residents

‘I didn’t see the creature myself, I saw the prints’

Police were called after a man was witnessed stabbing tires with the fence post. Photo: Thanh Serious on Unsplash
Trail RCMP eport erratic man, suspicious fire and prohibited driver

Brief from the media release from the Trail and Greater District RCMP detachment

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Andre Robert won $500,000 through a Lotto Extra ticket on Dec. 23, 2020. Photo: Jeanne d’Arc Allard
Creston resident wins $500k through Lotto ticket

“I was surprised. I wasn’t sure if it was true or not.”

Most Read